Is it the Godzilla of the computer industry? That's what China is hoping with its latest and fastest supercomputer named Tianhe. At peak speed, this mechanical monster, housed at China's National University of Defense Technology in Changsha, can complete more than 1 quadrillion (one petaflop) calculations per second. For a current personal computer, the same calculations would take 160 years to complete.
Currently Tianhe's technical data has been submitted to the world's top-500 computing list for November's listing. Had Tianhe made its appearance earlier this year, it would have scored 4th on June's list, beating Shanghai's Magic Cube to take the top spot locally in China (Tianhe is five time's faster than the Shanghai supercomputer).
So what's inside this thing? According to Shanghai Daily, the one-petaflop beast cost organizations a meager $88 million to build (600 million Yuan). There are a total of 6,144 Intel CPUs and 5,120 AMD GPUs, and has enough storage to digitally contain all 27 million books in China's National Library four times over. However there are plans to implement local CPUs, either by adding to the existing Intel library or removing Intel altogether.
"As far as I know, the combination of CPUs and GPU is something new in making a petaflop computer," said Zhou Xingming, a CAS academician and a NUDT professor. "A GPU plays a role as an accelerator to make the computer run faster and also reduces its power consumption and cost. After it is installed in Tianjin, we plan to add hundreds or thousands of China-made CPUs to the machine and improve its performance."